Microsoft: Google thwarting competition

Microsoft has filed a complaint with the European Commission alleging that the company violated competition laws. 

Brad Smith, the company's general counsel, said in a blog post that Microsoft is "concerned by a broadening pattern of conduct aimed at stopping anyone else from creating a competitive alternative."

Smith cited Google's 95 percent control of the European search market to argue that the company has taken steps to "entrench" its dominance.

For instance, Google has put barriers preventing Microsoft's Bing from indexing YouTube content in its listings, Smith said. And Microsoft is barred from easily placing a top YouTube app on its phones, the blog post says.

Smith goes on to claim that Google contractually prevents leading websites from using a search bar linked to Microsoft's Bing to show results. The company says Google also hikes up ad rates for competitors. 

"We readily appreciate that Google should continue to have the freedom to innovate. But it shouldn’t be permitted to pursue practices that restrict others from innovating and offering competitive alternatives," he writes.

Google cried foul on Thursday in response to the blog post.

"We're not surprised that Microsoft has done this, since one of their subsidiaries was one of the original complainants. For our part, we continue to discuss the case with the European Commission and we're happy to explain to anyone how our business works," a spokesperson said. 

Google has greater search dominance in Europe than the U.S., where Microsoft says the situation is "troubling" but not as dire. Google controls about 70 percent of the U.S. search market.

Microsoft noted that it has shown a willingness to invest in Bing, but says it can't get on equal footing while Google behaves anticompetitively. 

"At Microsoft we’ve shown that we’re prepared to work hard and invest literally billions of dollars annually to offer Bing, a search service that many now regard as the most innovative available. But, hard work and innovation need a fair and competitive marketplace in which to thrive," he said. One of the original complaints to the European Commission was from Ciao, a Microsoft subsidiary.

Smith also acknowledged that Microsoft is known for facing antitrust heat in the past.

"There of course will be some who will point out the irony in today’s filing. Having spent more than a decade wearing the shoe on the other foot with the European Commission, the filing of a formal antitrust complaint is not something we take lightly. This is the first time Microsoft Corporation has ever taken this step. More so than most, we recognize the importance of ensuring that competition laws remain balanced and that technology innovation moves forward," he said.

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